Lord John Grey of Pirgo

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John Grey (c. 1523 – 1564) was an English courtier. He was condemned to death for his involvement in Wyatt's rebellion against Mary I, but was released under attainder. He was restored from attainder by Mary's successor, Elizabeth I, who also granted him the royal palace at Pirgo. Lady Catherine Grey, his niece, and sister to Lady Jane Grey, was released into his care in 1563. He was again imprisoned for a short time after the publication of a book claiming that Catherine was the legitimate heir to the throne.


John Grey was the youngest surviving son of Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset and Margaret, widow of William Medley and daughter of Sir Robert Wotton of Boughton Malherbe.

Grey married Mary Browne, daughter of Sir Anthony Browne and his first wife, Alice Gage.[1][2]


Grey served as deputy at Newhaven (now Le Havre) in France at the English fortification while it was strengthened and given extra storage facilities. He received grants from Edward VI of the rectory of Kirby Bellars, Leicestershire with additional estates in Leicestershire, his family's home county, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire which were confirmed by Queen Mary with additional grants of Bardon Park, Leicestershire and the site of the monastery of Kirby Bellars.

Wyatt's Rebellion

John Grey and his brothers became involved in Wyatt's rebellion which proposed to replace Catholic Queen Mary with her Protestant half-sister Elizabeth and Grey was condemned to death. His brothers, Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk and Lord Thomas Grey, were both executed but with the assistance of his Catholic father-in-law, Viscount Montagu, John Grey was released, though still under attainder, and lived obscurely until the death of Queen Mary. Grey was his father's sole surviving son but he was disallowed the marquessate.

Lady Jane Grey, John Grey's niece, had been sentenced to death for treason before Wyatt's rebellion. She was executed the month after the rebellion.[relevant? ]

Queen Elizabeth's accession

An iron gatepost at the entrance is almost all that remains of Henry VIII's house

Grey appeared at court as head of his family, attended the Queen on her first progress to London and gave her a costly gift on the first New Year's Day of her reign. A few months later he complained of poverty to her chief adviser and the Queen granted him her own manor of Pirgo and its house as well as lands in Somerset. He was 'restored in blood', released from the act of attainder and appointed one of the four Protestant noblemen to supervise the alteration of the Book of Common Prayer.

Lady Catherine Grey

Lady Jane Grey's younger sister, Grey's niece, Catherine, heir presumptive under the will of Henry VIII, had married secretly in 1560 without the Queen's consent. The marriage was quickly discovered and she was confined to The Tower. Released under house arrest in 1563 for her safety during an outbreak of plague she was sent to Pirgo under the care of John Grey. Then a book circulated claiming that Catherine was lawful heir and not Mary, Queen of Scots. The Queen removed Catherine from his charge and John Grey was briefly taken into custody.

Lord John Grey of Pirgo died a short time later at Pirgo on 19 November 1564 and was buried there in his chapel.


John Grey and Mary Browne had three sons and four daughters including:


  1. Douglas Richardson. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, Genealogical Publishing Com, Jul 30, 2005. pg 392. Google eBook
  2. Richard Davey. The sisters of Lady Jane Grey and their wicked grandfather, E.P. Dutton and co., 1912. pg 199-200. Google eBook